How Anastasia found the roots of her devotion to community life – and – what she discovered. (In Two Parts, at least; the “how” and the “what.”)
You think you know stuff. You think you know who you are. Then in the midst of daily living -- upheaval. And you find you don’t know what you thought you knew or even fully who you are. I had an awakening of this sort when I went to lunch with a friend whose knowledge and wisdom about world peace, or its alternatives, I greatly respect.
The objective for our luncheon was for her to give me feedback on my new book in progress, The Middle East Crisis In My Backyard: How Communities Come Apart and How They Heal.
I was feeling fairly confident at the onset of our time together that I had gathered the threads of what I viewed to be the fundamental principles for the book. And had written a decent first draft for the Prologue that would appropriately open the book and identify these, or so I thought.
Then, much to my surprise, my friend drew my attention to the absolute, final sentence of that draft, strongly urging that what had been my ending needed to be my beginning!
Wow! What an amazement that was to me. But in an instant I saw the unequivocal merit of her feedback.
The phrase that caught my friend’s eye so meaningfully was “tikkun olam,” Hebrew for world repair, a word that has come to symbolize a certain philosophy of contemporary Jews such as myself. Not only did she press me to bring the word to the very front of my Prologue but she also implored me to explain its meaning to non-Jews like herself. Ok, no problem. I would do that.
I was so excited and inspired by her suggestions and the light they had thrown on my writing I could barely wait to get back to my computer to begin investigating what I would need in terms of new information to help me comply with her suggestions. As I did this, it quickly became apparent that the significance of the central word, “tikkun olam,” of her suggestions was only a password for me; an almost secret and forgotten code that if properly deciphered could give me access to what turned out to be a gorgeous treasure chest of riches almost completely buried and forgotten for much of my life.
Had I overlooked the beckoning of a friend at a casual restaurant luncheon I might never have ever found this key to a partially buried heritage of mine, a grand surprise, especially after all the digging I already had done; Truth seeker that I am.
Maybe I would have discovered these treasures anyway before too long. After all, “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” Yet here it was now in a long-held trust, if I could break the code; a treasure chest that contained hidden parts of me – and – my mother, unseen.
How beautiful too that I unearthed this treasure, containing the very Essence of my mother – and – therefore myself just in time for Mother’s Day. What a blessing!
With new discoveries now surfacing, almost daily, vivid in their beauty and significance, I have found that former hints of my devotion to community life were signals to me to keep searching for roots that ran more deeply in me than I have “consciously ever seen” before!
Here is what I am now realizing through my persistent reach for clarity that only a search for the Light can find. Darkness, rarely, if ever discovers treasure like this!
I am coming to understand, out of the riches of my newly unearthed treasure chest, that my mother who was a mentally ill and horribly cruel and abusive mother from early on in my childhood was also, in her heart and soul, an American-born shtetl Jewess who had bottle fed me on the milk and honey of her Eastern European heritage, as she knew it and incorporated it from her parents, passed down from grandparents and many generations before.
Until her mental breakdown when I was eight, she had imbued in me, by my merely standing next to her as she did her best to live by these ideals, a cultural way of life that while dying out in her family’s country of origin, Rumania, was being steadfastly held to by immigrant and first generation American Jews such as herself. This heritage of mine, I now realize, was always with me, back to my days in my mother’s womb and the life I was born into; a personal and family life intrinsically interwovn into the communal.
Community/tribal is who I am, at least in part! I’ve known this to be true for many years.
Now I really know it to be true and how it came to be!
When I made my pledge to follow my way to LOVE rather than the Dark Side I had gotten myself embroiled in through my own Survivor/Addict way of living on the Washington D.C. fast track, I, unknowingly, but guided by the Light, put myself on a path to this destination!
And now I believe I’ve come home to it! My pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!
This year in Jerusalem, no need to wait until the next!
The brilliant, sparkling epiphany my luncheon date with my friend brought me is the kind of awakening most likely to come to a traveler on the Compassionate Warrior path, a seeker of Truth and Light, not someone blinded by the Dark Side Warrior (Survivor/Addict) way!
Just as I’ve believed, intuitively, since those first steps of mine, pledged to transform the Dark Side of me, an exceptional communal life, as the GRAD theory suggests, has been the way!
It is the way of the Spirit!
The Broadway musical, Fiddler On The Roof, depicts a slice of this way of life that my maternal heritage brought me. With words and music it illustrates a vivid picture of communal life, fraught with interpersonal complexities, yet filled, too, with loyalties, love and laughter, song and celebration.
So brilliant is the Spirit in this play it is no wonder it has been been Beloved on Broadway to such an extent over the years.
Just like discovering Lucy or Neanderthal Man, this is BIG!
I’ll be keeping you posted as I start making sense of it all. For now what I can most aptly say is this --
My treasure chest is overflowing with riches.
The main one to share for now, is this – unlike my original perspective, as I presented it in my Lean In Legacy Template (note I was already thinking in terms of inheritance here) …
My mentors have been my father, Marty Groder, Murat Yagan and my mother!
No wonder Anastasia The Super Sleuth, investigator and transformer of darkness into Light, is my alter ego.